Khaldoon Al Mubarak insists the Blues are being used as a “diversionary tactic on poor investment decisions by other clubs” as he hits back at critics
Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has branded La Liga chief Javier Tebas and other critics “jealous”, and insists his side will not be banned from the Champions League or receive a transfer ban as long as investigations into its conduct are “judged on facts”.
City won an unprecedented domestic treble this season but in recent weeks their sporting achievements have had to share the spotlight with allegations of widespread rule breaking and even the policy of the Abu Dhabi government and royal family, given Al Mubarak and Blues owner Sheikh Mansour have strong links to both.
Uefa announced on May 16, two days before the FA Cup final, that it had referred City to its adjudicatory chamber following an investigation into alleged breaches of Financial Fair Play regulations.
Fifa is also probing alleged breaches regarding third-party ownership and the signing of overseas youth players, the FA is examining the signing of young players inside England, and the Premier League is investigating finances, third-party ownership and the recruitment of youngsters. City deny all wrongdoing.
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Last week, La Liga president Tebas accused City, and Qatar-backed Paris Saint-Germain, of “inflating the market so clubs have to pay ridiculous sums to keep their players”.
Al Mubarak, who as well as being City chairman sits on Abu Dhabi’s executive council and is an advisor to the royal family, has used an end-of-season interview with the Premier League club’s official website to turn the tables on Tebas and Spanish football’s history of big spending.
“He talks about how we distorted the market? There is a hypocrisy in this statement that is ironic,” the City chairman said. “Number one, let’s look at the Spanish league, the time of breaking records on player acquisitions, I mean, who started that?
“Let’s go back to the world records, [Luis] Figo, [Zinedine] Zidane. These huge jumps in these transfers, where did they happen? You know, the history, you have to look back at the history of La Liga, a league dominated by two clubs, and Mr Tebas should look back at the history of that league and how distortion has happened throughout the ages.
“And then you look back at transfers. In the top 10 transfers of all time, Manchester City has not a single player in that, not a single one. So I don’t really take it seriously and I ask our fans to always put it in context. Always look at facts. And I think people with glass homes shouldn’t be throwing rocks. I’m happy to talk to anyone as long as the conversation is about facts but once we start talking about innuendo and talking about theories I have no time for that.”
And while he does not expect to receive much sympathy from City’s domestic rivals, Al Mubarak says English clubs should start to take a stand against Tebas’ attacks.
“We have the best league in the world, we have the most commercial league in the world, the most successful clubs in the world, economically, commercially in terms of global presence, and that’s why this attack is not just on Manchester City, it’s against this league. And I hope people start seeing that and start… I know people don’t want to defend Manchester City, but for God’s sake start defending this league.”
Yet Al Mubarak also rounded on other Premier League clubs, who he suggests have leaked information to the media in a bid to put pressure on the governing bodies investigating the club.
“With success, there is a certain level of jealousy, envy, whatever you call it, that’s part of the game,” he continued. “You know when Manchester United dominated the Premier League for many years, they know what they had to deal with for so many years, that’s part of the game.
“It’s not easy for our competition, we know that; and by the way, the football world is very small and word comes around very quickly so you know, when someone somewhere in a leading position in any club says something, or briefs something, guess what? We know about it.
“The reality is, we didn’t buy the most expensive player in the Premier League, we didn’t buy the most expensive goalkeeper, we didn’t buy the most expensive midfielder, we didn’t buy the most expensive striker, so when people throw that, you know what they throw at us, I go back: let’s look at facts, let’s talk about facts.
“I will not accept for this club to be used as a diversionary tactic on poor investment decisions from other clubs. People make decisions, they’ve got to live by them. We’ve managed ourselves well and we will be judged by facts and facts alone. This is a well-run club. That’s a fact; a well-managed wage to revenue ratio that compares to some of the best run clubs in his league, la liga but frankly in all of European football.”
City could be banned from the Champions League if Uefa’s adjudicatory body agrees with its investigatory body’s finding that FFP regulations have been breached.
The club released a strongly worded statement in light of their referral, criticising the process presided over by chief investigator Yves Leterme and insisting that they are “entirely confident of a positive outcome when the matter is considered by an independent judicial body.”
Al Mubarak strikes a similar tone, stressing that City will not be found guilty by any of the bodies investigating its conduct, providing decisions are based on “facts”.
“Am I uncomfortable? No,” the chairman added. “I respect regulatory bodies doing their job and any regulatory process that asks questions. We have to professionally respond which is what we have done.
“We are dealing with each of these entities as per the process, we have clear answers. I believe, quite comfortably, if the process is going to be judged on facts then unquestionably we will prevail. If it’s not about facts and it’s about other things, then it is a different conversation.
“But I strongly hope that these regulatory bodies will ultimately make the decision based on facts. Now having said that, just going back on this wave that we are dealing with, I think, listen, I’ll be philosophical about this, the reality is we have dealt with this before, with Uefa, this is not the first time we have dealt with it. We are going through the appropriate steps and we’re confident in our position, very comfortable in our position. I’m not concerned about that because facts will prevail.”